How to Write a Real Estate Investment Business Plan + Free Sample Plan PDF

Elon Glucklich

Elon Glucklich

Elon Glucklich

8 min. read

Updated February 19, 2024

Download a free one-page real estate investment sample business plan

With the worst of recent inflation in the rear-view mirror and interest rates projected to start falling in 2024, real estate investors see signs of optimism. 

New apartment construction is rising sharply. These new properties coming onto the market and the prospect of lower borrowing costs point to plenty of long-term opportunities for investors.

However, investing in real estate requires a sharp eye for market trends, as well as significant upfront resources. Investors need to understand the different strategies for securing financing, and how to manage their properties to increase their value before reselling.

A business plan reduces your likelihood of making a bad investment, because it gets you in the habit of organizing your market research, and updating it as conditions evolve. The plan ultimately helps align your investment strategies with your opportunities.

| Looking for a fix and flip, home inspection, or other type of plan? Browse the Bplans library of sample real estate business plans |

What should you include in a real estate investment business plan?

Here are the most common sections any real estate investor should consider including in their plan:

  • Executive summary
  • Company overview
  • Investment strategy
  • Market analysis
  • SWOT analysis
  • Financial plan and forecasts
  • Exit strategy
  • Appendix

The length and depth of your business plan will vary depending on your business. For instance, a real estate investment firm with a national portfolio of office and apartment buildings is bound to have a more complex set of financial projections and supporting documents than an investor with single-family houses in a few markets.

Here’s an example of a real estate investment business plan outline.

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The 8 elements of an effective real estate investment business plan

1. Executive summary

Most business plans start with an executive summary outlining the business opportunity and the core strategies of your business. 

It’s the first section that most readers (including loan officers) will read. You’ll want to highlight any unique value or competitive edge you have, such as a track record of generating positive returns, or knowledge of a specific market. 

You should also give a high-level overview of your financial projections and anticipated returns, which you’ll go into greater detail on in the plan’s financial section. If you’re writing a business plan because you’re seeking bank financing or an investment, this is a good section to state your funding request and how you’ll use those funds.

2. Company overview 

The company overview describes your company’s operational and legal structure

List whether you have any partners, and detail your team’s experience, expertise, and roles within the company. Also, outline your portfolio, such as investing in residential properties, commercial buildings, or new development projects. 

3. Investment strategy

There are many ways to invest in real estate — buying homes to rent out, fixing and flipping houses, pooling your resources with partners into a real estate investment group, investing in real estate investment trusts, and more. Describe your strategy and why it will generate the highest returns.You should also describe your criteria for choosing properties to invest in, and whether your primary focus is to invest in a certain geographic region or a type of property, such as apartments or fixer-upper homes.

4. Market analysis

If you have any experience in investment real estate, you know how important market research is. Imagine paying $1 million for an apartment building and adding $100,000 on renovations, only to realize you can’t find tenants to pay the higher rents you want to charge.

That’s where a thorough market analysis comes in. It helps you understand the landscape you’re operating in. 

Use resources like the U.S. Census Bureau to research your target market’s age, income, and population trends. Look online for local data about real estate prices and how they’ve changed over time, or reach out to local realtors to get a feel for the market.

You should also try to determine how much investment activity is taking place in the market and who you’re competing with for opportunities. 

Many cities and larger towns with development departments make their building permit databases available online, since permits are typically public records. Reviewing permit records can show you how much development activity is already occurring where you plan to invest.

5. SWOT analysis

Because of the risks involved in real estate investment, a SWOT analysis can be a helpful exercise. It’s a strategic way of evaluating your company’s internal and external environment (think about your company’s financial health as an internal factor, and interest rates as an external factor).

The SWOT analysis gets you thinking about your company’s:

Strengths: What you do well, and what unique resources you have.

Weaknesses: What you need to improve on, what resources you lack, or what your competitors do better than you.

Opportunities: What are the current opportunities you want to take advantage of?

Threats: What factors could expose your company to risk, or what might competitors do to harm your position?

6. Financial plan and forecasts

Your financial plan should provide a detailed view of the expected financial performance of your real estate investments. Include income statements, cash flow forecasts, and balance sheets projecting the next 3-5 years. 

List the assumptions you used in your projections, such as rental income changes from rent increases or unrealized revenue due to certain amounts of vacant commercial space. 

You should also include a break-even analysis. This calculates when you expect a property’s operating income to exceed the debt taken to buy and maintain it.

7. Exit strategy

If you’re writing your business plan for investors, detailing your exit strategy will clarify their pathways for realizing their returns. It also trains you to think about the long-term timeline for your investments and how to maximize their value. 

Consider strategies that will help you maximize your profits, like refinancing your properties or looking into potential tax-deferral opportunities like a 1031 exchange.

8. Appendix

The appendix is an optional section at the end of your business plan. It’s where you include additional documents that support your business plan but don’t fit in the plan. This might include your detailed market research data, financial tables not covered in the main sections of the plan, legal documents, or permit records.

Key considerations for writing a real estate investment business plan

To write a business plan that you can use as a guide for your decision making, consider places in the plan to emphasize these key points.

1. Develop a niche

If you’re a small investor or just starting, focus on carving out a specific niche for your investment strategy instead of trying to compete in multiple real estate segments. This could mean concentrating on a particular property type, such as multi-family homes, commercial real estate, or foreclosure properties, and diversifying your portfolio only after you’ve developed some traction. Or, you may decide to focus only on the segment you have the greatest advantage in.

2. Understand your risks

Real estate investment is inherently risky. 

Market dynamics, regulatory changes, and economic fluctuations can all impact the performance of your investments. 

As you compile research for your market analysis, dedicate time to conduct a detailed risk analysis to understand these factors and their potential impact on your investments. This includes assessing location-specific risks, economic cycles, and tenant or occupancy issues. 

Writing these out before they happen will help you think of strategies to mitigate these risks if they actually occur.

3. Network and develop market knowledge

Building a strong network with other real estate professionals, such as brokers and contractors, can provide valuable insights into the markets you hope to operate in. Document in your business plan how you will cultivate these relationships — you can include timelines for developing contacts in the milestones section of your plan.

Also, try to keep up to date on current events in the area, especially news about the regional economy. Look into the tax climate in the area, as well. All of this helps you build a deeper understanding of your market dynamics, and helps validate your investment strategy — or gives you reasons to reconsider.

4. Consider help with your financials

Even if you have the financial background to write financial forecasts, you may want to leave room in your budget for accounting support. 

If you’re starting or investing in an unfamiliar market, a CPA will help you navigate tricky tax issues that could throw off your projections. 

Include the expense of hiring an accountant in your plan if you decide to bring one on, and describe their role, whether it’s helping with budgeting, tax planning, or financial analysis.

Download your free real estate investment one page sample business plan

Download your free real estate investment sample business plan right now, or explore the Bplans gallery of over 550 sample business plans if you want to see plans for other industries.

You can also see how other real estate businesses have written their plans by checking out our free library of real estate business plans.

There are many reasons why real estate investors should write a business plan. Not only does it demonstrate credibility to the banks or investors you want to fund your acquisitions — it also increases your chances for growth, and gives you a strategy to manage your finances for the long term.

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Content Author: Elon Glucklich

Elon is a marketing specialist at Palo Alto Software, working with consultants, accountants, business instructors and others who use LivePlan at scale. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and an MBA from the University of Oregon.